You are here
Home > Community > Everything is coming up aces for Hard Rock’s Midwest projects

Everything is coming up aces for Hard Rock’s Midwest projects

Two areas in the Midwest U.S. will soon have a Hard Rock presence.

Hard Rock International recently announced plans for casino projects in both Rockford, Illinois, and Gary, Indiana.

Both are expected to generate significant jobs, spur tourism and generate more business in their respective regions.

HRI is submitting a proposal to city of Rockford officials to develop and operate a casino at the former Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center site, located at 7801 East State St.

The facility would include a casino, restaurants and an entertainment venue, HRI officials said in a statement.

The site was chosen because of its proximity to Interstate 90 and Interstate 39. About 70,000 cars drive past the location each day, officials said.

“We understand there is a process, one that we have the utmost respect for, and we look forward to working within it over the coming months,” Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of Seminole Gaming said in the statement.

HRI executives said they are committed to working closely with Rockford’s downtown business community to “bring the economic benefits of the casino to the heart of the city though partnerships, promotions and other collaborative efforts.”

The proposed casino site is about seven miles from downtown Rockford.

Rockford resident and lead guitarist for the band Cheap Trick, Rick Nielsen, was present for the announcement with Hard Rock officials in Rockford. He has been an outspoken supporter of the casino and its proposed location.

“This is a dream come true. I made more trips to [the state capitol in] Springfield and handed out more guitar picks than I can count to push for exactly why we are here today,” Nielsen said. “I know this town. My family and I call Rockford home. This is not only the best location; it’s the best partner for any community. Nobody comes close to Hard Rock. I should know, I have my guitars hanging in tons of Hard Rocks around the world and I can’t think of a better place to hang one than in Rockford where I grew up and where I live.”

More information, and perhaps a timeline for construction, will be forthcoming as the company responds to the city’s recent request for proposals (RFP).

‘Spectacle’ in Gary

Meanwhile, Spectacle Entertainment and HRI have formed a partnership for a northwest Indiana casino project in Lake County, home of the city of Gary.

Spectacle is a newly formed and Indianapolis-based investment company.

The $400 million joint venture will be branded and managed by HRI. It is expected to create about 3,000 jobs.

“We want to thank the general assembly and the office of Governor Eric Holcomb for approving this project,” Rod Ratcliff chairman and CEO of Spectacle said in a statement.

Ratcliff said the venture will result in significant tax benefits for the state as well as the creation of 1,000 construction jobs and nearly 2,000 more permanent jobs.

“We’re confident this $400 million investment will serve as a significant catalyst for the continued economic revitalization of northwest Indiana and the city of Gary,” he said.

Gary is known as the location of musician Michael Jackson’s childhood home, as well as the birthplace of the Jackson 5 musical act.

Jim Allen said HRI is excited to bring the first “land based” gaming destination to northwest Indiana and the greater Chicago area. Spectacle currently own two Majestic Star casino boats in Gary.

One of Majestic Star’s casino licenses is expected to be transferred to the Gary project, which will be developed on approximately 40 acres located about 20 minutes south of Chicago off Interstate 94.

The new development will include the casino, multiple restaurants and bars, a Hard Rock Café and Hard Rock Live concert venue.

HRI and Spectacle are also interested in a site in Terre Haute in central Indiana for a future project, which would use the second of Majestic Star’s casino licenses.

HRI has venues in 74 countries, including 186 Hard Rock Cafés and 29 hotels. The company also owns, licenses and/or manages hotel-casino properties worldwide.

Destinations include the company’s two most successful hotel and casino properties in Tampa and Hollywood (Florida).

HRI’s parent company is the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

More information is at

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at